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LETTER: UNM LEAF calls on UNM Foundation to divest Russian-aiding assets

In the wake of Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham is calling for the New Mexico State Investment Council to divest the $36.4 billion in assets it manages from any holdings that benefit the Russian government and its supporters.

We call on the University of New Mexico Foundation, as a state institution, to do the same with the stocks, bonds and private equity investments it holds in the Consolidated Investment Fund, also known as the Endowment. The first stocks to go should be the Russian fossil fuel investments which are helping to finance not only this unconscionable human rights catastrophe but are also propelling the entire world towards irreversible climate devastation.

The Foundation’s public equity funds include Russian majority state-owned Gazprom, the largest publicly listed natural gas company in the world and the largest company in Russia by revenue; Russian government-controlled Rosneft, the largest publicly traded oil company in the world; Russian multinational oil and gas Lukoil; and Novatek, Russia’s second-largest natural gas producer, to name a few.

We agree with the governor in the letter she wrote to the council that “[t]he State of New Mexico has substantial investments that may be directly or indirectly aiding the Russian invasion. This is unacceptable. Not one penny should go toward furthering Putin’s brutality.”

In addition, Russia is the fourth-largest emitter of greenhouse gasses globally. Gazprom is No. 3 globally for emitting the most carbon of any company since 1965, according to a 2019 study. Recent satellite images reveal that Russia ranks second for having the most “ultra-emitters” of methane, a greenhouse gas with 86 times more warming power than CO2 in the short term.

Russia receives a rating of “Critically Insufficient” by the Climate Action Tracker (CAT), a scientific group that measures countries’ actions against the Paris Accord goals of keeping warming well below 2 C. CAT says Russia has gutted its emissions laws and its energy strategy “focuses almost exclusively on promoting fossil fuel extraction, consumption and export to the rest of the world. Such a strong focus on increasing reliance on fossil fuel revenues poses a considerable economic risk in a future Paris Agreement compatible world.”

We encourage the UNM Foundation to invest along its values: stop implicitly supporting companies that fuel Russia’s unjustified conflagration in Ukraine and stop supporting companies that, through climate change, will spark or exacerbate many more conflicts in the warming world to come.

Stefi Weisburd submitted this letter on behalf of UNM LEAF. UNM LEAF is a student-led climate action group that has filed a complaint with the Attorney General and the State Auditor contending that the UNM Foundation has violated the Uniform Prudent Management of Institutional Funds Act by investing (in fossil fuels) contrary to the University’s charitable mission. It joins students who have taken this action at Stanford, Yale, Harvard, Princeton, Johns Hopkins, Vanderbilt, MIT, Marquette and the University of Wisconsin


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